Creating a safe space for the children of key-workers: A COVID-19 monitoring protocol.

Firstly let me apologise for any typos and spellings. This is a rushed post. I wanted to get it out as soon as possible in the hope that it might allow others to implement similar ideas.

Secondly let me say I am not an infectious disease expert. I do have a biochemistry background but that’s about it. So if you notice a glaring issue or think my protocol is wrong, please let me know. I’m not sharing this for any other reason than to support the teaching professionals who are supervising students starting Monday.

COVID-19 is potentially everywhere. We are providing vital childcare for the parents of keyworkers. Our role in support helps the vulnerable stay safe, society to function and puts food on peoples tables. Let that sink in for a minute…

But there is also a huge potential risk. A single COVID-19 carrier come into a school without detection will infect the exact students we need to protect. It could have a huge issue locally for you if children bring the virus back to the homes of keyworkers, or vice-versa.

Staff are also worried about their inability to isolate. So their piece of mind and capacity to perform supervision is also at risk.

It is vital that all students are screened for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis.

We are setting up a two stage screening process that is focused on temperature checking.

  1. Students will enter the school in single file arms length apart.
  2. At the main door students will have a forehead temperature reading taken.
  3. Students who are below a critical threshold will go into the building and wash their hands before heading to their classroom
  4. Students who are above a critical threshold will be asked to head to the main hall.

The main hall is our choice of venue as it is next to the schools entrance and does not require any contact with door handles etc. It also has a second exit through a fire escape.

In the hall there is an in-ear thermometer and a qualified first-aider. They will measure the student more accurately and follow the government guidelines regarding the 14 day isolation period.

Also in the temperature screening kit is:

  • Surgical wipes to clear the cap for the thermometer (as we only have 40)
  • A box for used ear caps to prevent contamination.
  • Disinfectant to wipe any chairs, surfaces or the equipment used
  • Spare batteries for the thermometers
contents of the temperature screening box

What should the threshold temperature be?

Over the last few weeks I have taking the temperature of the forehead of over a hundred students (which looked weird at the time, but less so in retrospect I’m guessing). It is my PERSONAL OPINION that the threshold should be 34.5C * Most foreheads seem to be below that number. Should result in very few needing to be tested more accurately which preserves our supplies. But you could set your own based on your thermometer.

Update: to be clear I only have access to an industrial IR thermometer. If you are lucky enough to have a medical grade one you don’t need all theses steps.

UPDATE 2: Didn’t consider the effect of the cold air and walk to school on the students temperature. So this number will drop. But the key thing is to establish a baseline. Today ours was 20 +/ 1 C so any student at 22 had their in ear temperature taken.

Why not just use the in-ear thermometer?

Don’t have enough caps for the hundred students we are expecting, Also takes ages.

Why even bother?

I think the biggest risk to this country is crisis fatigue. People just naturally get sloppy over time. Without procedures to ensure effective measures are in place we will be complicit in the infection of a staff member, a student or their parent. I can’t accept that on my conscience.

What if we don’t have an IR thermometer?

Then I would probably use the in ear one on any student who looks flushed, lethargic, or coughing.

What about inside the building?

We have some procedures planned but too long to write about now. I’ll post next week if I think they are generalisable.

What about staff?

I expect them to take their temperature before they leave for work. If they are unable then they should take it on entry as the students do.

*Why is the temperature so low?

Just in case people are not sure. The core body temp and forehead temperature are not the same. I’m merely using an inaccurate device to provide a way to make a consistent decision.

I hope you found this useful. Please stay safe and remember, the most important part of the next few months is avoiding infection inside the school.

Part 2 about social distancing is here

13 thoughts on “Creating a safe space for the children of key-workers: A COVID-19 monitoring protocol.

Add yours

  1. Just one suggestion. Do it earlier. For those taxied in have the student tested before they get on the taxi (if you have a minibus consider using a staff member to do this who never enters school).

    Also why not test at the gate in the open air. But a tarpaulin up for rain. They can then be sent straight home. You could even scan the parent.


  2. Have you any reference material for error range on IR thermometer or recommended reading. Couldn’t find any on Google


  3. All good advice but the temp reading seems really low? Especially when normal body temp is 36.5 to 37.5? I guess it’s just your thermometer, but this could be misleading advice!


      1. Just done my families with forehead thermometer and all within 36.5 to 37.5 … might just be your thermometer?


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